Here at Chetwynd Aston & Woodcote Parish Council, we see the value in everyone. We want to be a catalyst for positive change.
According to 'The Comprehensive Gazetteer England and Wales' 1894, the area known as Chetwynd Aston and Field Aston, is a township in the Lea of Edgmond Parish, of 1243 acres with a population of 342, in 83 dwelling houses. This of course excludes our further reach of Woodcote, Pave Lane Lynn and Stockton.
The history of our Parish in records is much older than many would conceive, in fact back almost a thousand years. The Domesday Book traces the Cotes' name back to 1086 AD. Burkes 'Landed Gentry' , identify Richard De Cote as resident at Woodcote before 1250 AD. It is known that the land was gifted to his family as early as The Normandy invasion of 1066 AD, as reparation for their endeavours during the famous battle, at Hastings, by Prince Guillaume of Normandy. (William, to you and me).
Battles were consistent in the Cotes Family. To the rear of The Norwood House, (formerly a coaching inn named 'The Horse and Jockey') lies a prominent knoll, known as 'Muster Hill'. In 1485, Humphrey Cotes, of Woodcote Estate, mustered volunteers of men from the local environs as far as Oswestry, with the Earl of Richmond present, (latterly King Henry V11), for the Battle of Bosworth. Cotes was in fact killed in this battle. His remains are somewhere on Bosworth field.
Modern History is less exciting for Woodcote, post Boer and WW1. The property came into the ownership of The Catholic Church, and was a Seminary for some decades, became a private home complete with public bar and nightclub, and is presently a nursing home. There are tales of skulduggery, hauntings and intrigue at this once magnificent piece of real estate.
Woodcote Hall was once a beauty to behold. The walled gardens were a gem of Victorian architecture, and in living memory, fully functional, sufficient to feed the estate and its supporting community. Sadly, now, these gardens are in a state of dereliction.
Woodcote Hall is now a Nursing Home, for elderly guests in the closing stages of their lives. The owners are responsible and caring of their charge as they are able to be, given its grade II listed status. As a parish, we recognise the efforts that are made by the management and staff, they demonstrably love the environment they occupy. If you get a chance to visit, we know you will be made welcome, and you will certainly enjoy the petting farm that has been established over the last 3 years. The residents certainly appreciate it.
Muster Hill, to the rear of Norwood House and Pave Lane Farm, has recent history associated to it also. It was a 'marker point' for the famed 'Kings Cup Air Race'. In the 1950 air race, pilot W.H Moss, an aviation engineer and aeroplane manufacturer, whilst racing and piloting his 'Mosscraft Sports Machine', sadly 'overcooked' it and crashed his machine on the mount of Muster Hill, catching his wingtip on the ground causing his craft to cartwheel down the hillside, resting in a pile of debris. He was recovered alive, but sadly died shortly afterwards as a consequence of his injuries. This unfortunate event was in the afternoon on Saturday 17th June 1950. It was an otherwise perfect summers' day.
We must now draw attention to the importance of the canals at Pave Lane. The enormity of this project simply cannot be ignored. The projected cost of the infrastructure at Pave Lane to connect to the network at Lilleshall and Donington was a staggering £55,466,17s, 1d. The quotation is dated 1767! .This date, a quart of beer was 2d. That's 2 pints in a quart, four in a gallon. As i write this, a quart of ale in The Wheatsheaf is £6.20, that's £3.10 per pint. Do the maths yourself to work out how much £55k was actually worth! For information, that's about £340 million in todays costs. Staggering!!
The canal was built to facilitate the movement of coal, distribution and wholesale/retail opportunities. The wharfage at Pave Lane was a great opportunity given the level ground, and the proximity to the Turn Pike, (toll road to me and you) on the Chester road, literally yards from the water. (A41 at Pave Lane) Lime kilns were built here to compliment this new distribution point. Much money was made.
The Geography of our Parish.
Historically, the Chetwynd Aston Parish can be proven to run right into Newport, including the Pen Y Bryn Way estate on Station Road. This is the site of a great house called 'Chetwynd Aston Villa'. When the Railway was constructed, the land to the south of the railway line, was deemed to be Chetwynd Aston, and the other side Newport. It was a natural and obvious division to implement as a boundary between the two parishes. Today, our parish still reaches into Newport. Few will realise that the Aldi site, and the forthcoming new development lies within the Chetwynd Aston boundary. The Newport Innovation Park plans, too are on our parish. You will see a present day map of the Parish here - Chetwynd Aston Ward and Station Road Ward.
Chetwynd Aston used to have a Golf course, this was on the site opposite Willow Cottage at the top end of Station Road, near to the sheep island on the left hand side as approaching Newport from the south. It was a nine hole course, complete with clubhouse. It was finally decommissioned in about 1910, when the last of the members de-camped to the much larger and more attractive new course at Lilleshall.
Many of us will have enjoyed a tincture in The Wheatsheaf Inn, and sampled the delights of The Fox and Duck, now The Fox. Few, however, will know that there were once five public houses in Chetwynd Aston and Woodcote parish. The Norwood House Hotel was once called The Horse and Jockey, and de-licensed in the 1950's, to become tearooms, later an antique shop, student accommodation, and in the 1980's re-licensed as a restaurant. It is presently a restaurant and tea room. The present day Fox was built in 1934 on a green field site, opposite the original Fox and Duck, now a private dwelling, but for many decades a coal merchants yard. The stagecoaches from London used to sound their horns, as they rounded the bend at Pave Lane to alert passengers for the onward journey to Chester of the imminent arrival of the coach. The Fox and Duck was a staging post where horses would be changed for the final leg of the journey to Chester.
At Field Aston, there is a fine building, now a private residence, that was once called 'The Wheatsheaf'. This was a coaching inn on the road to Stafford. It is a grade 2 listed building now, and it bears a plaque on its gable end, 'KS.TM.1701. It is hard to imagine now how the roads might have looked, given that this is now a no through road.
The fifth public house was at Cock Hollow in Woodcote, on the main A41. It was called The Cock, and it lay in the hollow, hence the name of the area. This now is too a fine private house.
Today, we have no places of worship operating. However, there were once three churches in the parish. These buildings still exist, but two are in a sad state and the third has a new lease of life. The Rubens Nursing home at its most southerly extent, is the remains of a chapel. It can be identified by the word 'Café' just still visible on the south facing roof. This gives a clue to its other use in history. It was once The Eagle Café, on the then trunk road A41.
Woodcote Hall has an ancient church in its grounds. This 8th Century Church was dedicated to St Peter, and remained in operation until the late 1990,s. A real little gem. Sadly now closed. There is of course the 1950's now derelict church at Woodcote, built by the Sacred Fathers during the Halls time as a seminary, for the teaching and training of Catholic Priests. This has had varying fortunes, including being a bar at one stage in the 1980's.
Although the parish has changed enormously over the centuries, much of its history remains, and we as a Council will continue to protect our wonderful countryside as best as we are able to.